Researchers create battery powered yarn, it glows

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Manchester (England, England) - It seems the Brits have developed a glow-in-the-dark textile yarn which runs on batteries.  The material is designed to be incorporated into jogger's clothes, cyclists, outdoor workers, and really anyone who has a need to be seen in the dark.

The yarn is a multi-layer electroluminescent thin film composite material made of regular yarn on the inside dipped in a special light-emitting ink.  All of that is encapsulated inside a transparent insulating layer with strategic vias (holes) placed into it.  Then the whole thing is wrapped by a final outer layer of yarn.  When battery power is applied, electricity flows through the yarn and ink, creating an electric field which illuminates wherever the outer and inner yarn layers touch.

Dubbed electroluminescent yarn, or "EL yarn," other potential applications include being woven into novelty items for writing, such as "Go Colts!", as well as cloth-based street signs and emergency uses.  Dr Tilak Dias, Head of the William Lee Innovation Centre (WLIC) in Manchester University's School of Materials, said, "At the moment the EL yarn we have developed is less flexible than conventional yarns.  But it is more flexible than current optical fibres that are incorporated within fabrics to provide illumination."  These include a current on-the-market product called "glow yarn."

When asked about the research team's effort in developing this product, Dr. Dias said "they'll all receive glowing reviews from me."